No, my issue was not with the affair, but with the manipulation and the apparent willingness of my husband and my former friend, people who were actively professing their love for me, to figuratively crumple me up like a used piece of paper and toss me carelessly in the trash. There's actual psychology behind what they tried to do.
Gaslighting is just one of the many weapons in the arsenal of personalities hell-bent on having their way even if it means doing so by subtle and covert means of conning others... [These] aggressive personalities... will do whatever it takes to secure and maintain a position of advantage over others... A common element among all the tactics manipulators use is that they cause the person being targeted to doubt their gut instincts about what's going on. Their gut tells them they're under attack or that someone is trying to get the better of them, and they intuitively go on the defensive. But because they can't find any clear, direct, objective evidence that the other person is merely trying to disadvantage them, they start doubting and questioning themselves... The goal is always to win or secure whatever it is they want. And they'll do whatever they have to do to get it. Sometimes the most effective way to do that is to avoid red-flagging their intentions but rather to get the other person to unwittingly but voluntarily surrender. Instill shame, instill guilt, instill fear, or instill great doubt, and the other person will likely back off the stance they really wanted to take. (Jade Small's "Gaslighting as a Manipulation Tactic: What it is, who does it, and why.")There were numerous instances when Joe must have wondered how I knew what was going on despite his careful attempts to hide it all. One night he texted me from the Monticello Community Center (MCC):
Joe: It's going to take me longer than I expected. I have diarrhea.Several hours later he came home. I was putting shoes in the front closet when he walked in the door. I looked at him and knew. I said, "You've had sex." He flipped out and aggressively counter-attacked. "You're so paranoid. I had diarrhea! I can't even be sick without you thinking I'm having an affair."
Me: Well you should probably come home. You'll get dehydrated.
Joe: No I can finish. I'll just come in the bathroom every so often when it gets bad.
Me: Okay. Well, keep me posted.
Whoa. Overreact much?
Joe and CC both accused me of "hacking" my husband's email, following him or them, and other stalker-like behaviors, none of which I engaged in. When my lover of twenty-nine years had sex, I knew what that looked like. And he'd had sex. By that time I had so little confidence in my gut-instinct, I just backed down. I probably was crazy or paranoid, I thought, to doubt someone who's never been a cheater and who has so vehemently denied it.
The day I found proof of their lying and cheating, July 16, 2014, one of the things I asked him was about diarrhea day.
Me: And that day you said you had diarrhea... you were with her?Me finding proof of their affair saved my mental health, but it enraged them.
Joe: But I had diarrhea too.
My discovery of their affair and my unwillingness to be quiet about it enraged Joe to the point of physical battery three days in a row. He tore my rotator cuff and gave me bruises on every visible and some less visible parts of my body. When I called for help on the third day, he lied to them about what had happened, and given my existing record I suspect, I was charged with two counts of domestic assault. When Jakob found out, he was upset and demanded his dad retract statements that were clearly lies.
It enraged CC to the point of deep and abiding hatred for me that I'm guessing will never fade. I could be wrong about what gave birth to the hatred; I would have to guess it started when I stood in the way of her first attempt to win a married man. But me finding out about her affair with Joe and telling people about it cemented her feelings. Sadly for her, that hatred will only impact her future, not mine.
Joe and CC had a goal. They wanted to continue their affair while they each continued to manipulate friends and family to be on their "side" in their imagined future. They committed to keeping the history of their relationship secret, and it was a secret they vowed to take to their graves.
Their plan went something like this:
Joe would divorce me while maintaining that he just couldn't stay married to someone struggling with addiction and presenting himself as someone who really had tried his best.
CC would divorce her husband after convincing her daughter, brother, and some others that she was in a miserable relationship and deserved so much more, that she'd given it her best effort and sacrificed her own happiness for her children long enough.
They would each pretend to date others; in fact, they had a plan how they would answer Adam (the only one they thought might see through their lies and want to meet someone his dad was dating).
Eventually they would magically connect in a completely moral fashion via their friendship and common interests as recent divorcees and a commitment to working out at the MCC.
They had absolutely no shame about what they were doing. Despite the fact that they didn't want anyone to discover their activities, they never considered doing things the "right" way. Neither of them had the courage or honor necessary to end their marriages and focus on their own situations or their own children before they engaged in their relationship.
There's more, but the gist is the same. Manipulate others into thinking what they're doing is right, and congratulate each other on being together.
Without their own words revealing their actions and plans, I would have been left accepting full responsibility for the demise of my marriage. As it was, my marriage had no chance of surviving. As good as being free of Joe has been for me personally, it's been horrible for my children and for CC's husband and children. And it's been horrible for our community of friends and family.